Elvis has entered the building! After weeks of hype and build-up, including a tweet counting down to the official release, we finally got the trailer for the Elvis movie by director Baz Lurhmann. The new biopic starring Austin Butler (in the title role as Elvis Presley) and Tom Hanks (as his domineering manager Colonel Tom Parker) is arriving on cinema screens this summer, Jun 24.
We’ve seen glimpses of the film up to now in short teaser clips and Luhrman has been sharing little-seen photos of Elvis to give us an idea of the kind of movie he’s planning to make. Lurhmann has previously said (in an interview with Deadline) that he sees Elvis as “the best canvas on which to explore America in the modern age, the 50s, 60s and 70s”.
So, now that the Elvis movie trailer has been released what have we learned?
The film covers a LOT of ground
From his boyhood days within the Pentecostal community, his deep South background, breaking onto the music scene at just 19, signing up for the Army, marriage to Priscilla, daughter Lisa Marie, his fall from grace and the comeback tours. This 3-minute trailer has it all. The only thing we didn’t see was Elvis in one of his many movie roles — he was in over 30 films. And underpinning the whole story is Tom Hanks as Elvis’ svengali-esque manager Colonel Tom Parker who built Elvis into a global superstar but, as with so many stories of fame and fortune, manipulated and got mega-rich from his talented star.
The name of the movie is, quite simply, Elvis.
There’d been hints (mostly based on lurking on Lurhmann’s Instagram) that the title of the new film was going to be TCB (short for favorite Elvis phrase “Taking Care of Business”. But that was cast aside when shortly before the trailer was released, Lurhmann revealed the film poster.
Austin Butler sings in the movie.
We were keen to know if Butler, who plays Elvis, would actually sing himself, or mime. And now we can hear for ourselves. While no one can recreate that famous voice it’s not a bad attempt — far better than his hip thrusting tbh.
Tom Hanks dons a hat and an accent to play Col. Tom
Much as we (like most people) love Tom Hanks, we’re not quite convinced by the Dutch accent he’s trying out to play Elvis’ manager — Colonel Tom Parker. It’s supposed to be Dutch (Parker was actually called Dries van Kuijk and was born in the Netherlands, before making his way to America and into the US Army) but sounds like a mangled mess of vowels crossed with Bond-villain. Still, we like him for trying.
There’s a lot of Elvis’ pelvis.
To be fair, in real life the singer’s pelvis (which featured heavily in his on-stage performances) was a key cultural reference point. Teens were delighted by this man with a soulful voice and sexy moves. Their parents and more conservative critics, not so much. In fact, there were heated arguments about the extent to which he was a bad influence on young, impressionable minds.
Luhrmann’s going to dig deep.
The director has previously said, in interviews, that he was planning to focus on society’s reactions to the “image” of Elvis — the symbol, not the man. Here we see how audiences responded to him, the furor he caused (good and bad) and the part Elvis played in bringing R&B and Gospel music (Black music) into the heart of the white mainstream pop culture as rock 'n' roll. We also see Elvis and Col. Parker discussing the events surrounding the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and arguing over whether or not to include the song If I can dream in Elvis’ 1968 Comeback Special. Written by Earl Brown, Elvis performed the song — an emotionally-resonant tribute to Martin Luther King — for the finale (against Parker’s wishes).
It’s a reminder that, although we may remember Elvis as the crooner dressed in leather and rhinestones, he had many facets — deeply spiritual, a product of the Deep South, a man that admired all that Dr. King stood for and, at times angry, anti-establishment.
I head up the team at What to Watch, helping to grow our newest entertainment brand. I've worked in content strategy, production and audience development for leading film and TV companies for over 15 years. Always fascinated by digital trends, I'm currently obsessed with FilmTok. You can also find me extolling the virtues of Fringe, Smallville, rom-coms, Wong Kar Wei and Monty Don/Gardener's World.
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